We hired a car in Galway with a plan to head down to the coastal town of Doolin. Though we couldn’t resist driving a bit north on the Wild Atlantic Way first! I’m so glad we did as there are some interesting things to see out there.
This drive north west was beautiful, we stopped in a couple of little towns along the way and would have loved more time to spend in these places. We made it all the way to up Kylemore Abbey which is pretty stunning, unfortunately I wasn’t feeling well so didn’t get much time to explore the garden up the top, but we had a good mosey around the actual Abbey.
Kylemore Abbey and the Wild Atlantic Way
Lough Corrib and Dunguaire Castle
When then continued back down past Galway and headed for Doolin, our destination for the next two nights. We managed to get in one more stop on the way, so quickly checked out Dunguaire Castle which is a picture perfect place to visit at sunset.
Doolin is a tiny town, with about 5 or 6 pubs to choose from... ok maybe more. The town is known for its music, so make sure you spend an evening listening to some real Irish music. The pubs have gigs most nights. We went to O'Connors and McDermotts... both were excellent.
Look at Doolin! Isn't it adorable?
Getting to the Aran Islands
As we were there in October, the sea was a bit rough…and Chris felt a bit ill and threw up in the toilet, much to the amusement of the other passengers. So I definitely recommend taking anti-nausea tablets!
Ferries arrive at Kilronan, the main village, and are met by minibuses and horse-and-cart drivers, all eager for new customers. The island is sizeable, about 7900 acres, so is a bit too large to explore on foot in a day! The best way to see it is undoubtedly by bike.
As soon as you disembark and finish throwing up, Aran bike hire is right next to the ferry. It’s €10 for the whole day… well worth it. I’m a big wimp and riding a bike scares me these days… but there is barely any traffic on the islands so it was a perfect reintroduction! So, after a shaky start we headed off on our bike riding adventure.
On the road again...
After a much needed refuelling, we continued to meander through the country lanes, stopping frequently to pat horses or take photos. I loved all the stone fences! Inis Mor is covered in them…. I became slightly obsessed. We then cycled to Kilmurvey Beach which would have been a nice spot for a picnic if it wasn’t the middle of October and freezing.
Sore legs, stones and speed
So, we started to head back towards Kilronan as we didn’t have long until our ferry (I mean, we had quite a reasonable amount of time left, but I have a tendency to be excessively early to everything).
This is where the bike ride started to get difficult, for real. It was uphill through country lanes, and we didn’t see another person for miles. It was tough – and I had to get off and walk a couple of times. I was pretty angry at this point that we hadn’t opted for a horse and cart tour!!
We got to see some amazing landscapes though…. And loads more stone fences!! At the top you could see all across the island and out to sea. But the best part was the downhill! I took it easy because I was only using a front brake and I didn’t want to go over the handle bars, but it was still a load of fun.
Bike ride complete!
It was a hard day's work for this amateur cyclist but a great way to spend the day! I'm not sure how far we cycled, but probably at least 10km... which would have been easy if it wasn't for those darned hills. I had a lot more fun that I thought though... as per usual.
Inis Mor is beautiful in a rugged, Irish type of way and was beautiful to photograph. Seriously though, look at all those stones! How long would it have taken to build all of those fences?!